Career Exploration

DISCOVER | EXPLORE | DECIDE | ACT

Finding, choosing and building a career takes effort, knowledge and support. Through a four-step career development process students can educate and empower themselves to find a career path that is filled with success.

Step 1: DISCOVER

The first thing to do when thinking about finding or changing your career, is taking the time to DISCOVER things about yourself. It is a time to focus and pay attention to you. What are your strengths, weaknesses, likes, dislikes, values, styles, skills and attitudes? It is a time to ask yourself some tough questions and then reflect on your discoveries.

The Career Center offers assessments for you to make these discoveries. Assessment availability is dependent on enrollment status. Please contact the Career Center for further information.

What best describes you?

Use Focus 2 to compare, connect and explore career and education options as you build meaningful plans for the future. Come to the Career Center for directions.

Want to immerse yourself in career development? Enroll in Personal Growth 130 - Career Planning.

Focus 2 is self-directed assessment and exploration option that can be done in the Career Center or in the comfort of your own home. It offers:

Career Readiness

  • Career and Educational Goals
  • Academic Strengths
  • Your Work Experiences and Accomplishments
  • Your Career Planning Status
  • Your Personal Development Needs

Self Assessment

  • Work Interest Assessment
  • Personality Assessment
  • Skills Assessment
  • Values Assessment
  • Leisure Interest Assessment

 

Explore the Possiblities

  • Search by Occupation Name
  • Search by Industry
  • What can you do with a major in ..... at San Diego Mesa College?
  • Explore occupations associated with any major area of study
  • Compare Two Occupations Side by Side

And much more...

To take advantage of this free resource and get you on your way to a career and major, come to the Career Center for directions.

Want to immerse yourself in career development? Enroll in Personal Growth 130 - Career Planning.

Come to the Career Center to discuss our in-depth career assessment process. This process takes at least two, 1/2 hour sessions and is only available during the Fall and Spring semesters for currently enrolled students.

  • Students will take two career assessments and complete a career questionnaire.
  • Once the assessments are complete, students will register for a small group interpretation (six students maximum), where a career counselor will review the results and discuss next steps.
  • Focus 2® offers a complete package of assessment and planning portfolio. Students can use this free service to assess, discover, and explore their career options throughout their entire education at Mesa College.
  • The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® (MBTI®) assessment is the most widely used personality assessment in the world. With a proven record of reliability spanning more than 50 years, it offers a foundation for understanding individual differences and applying that understanding to the ways people think, communicate, and interact. Versatile and dependable, the MBTI tool sets the stage for lifelong learning and development.
  • CA Career Zone offers Interests, Skills, and Work Importance Profilers to help students narrow their career choices. Students can set up a free account to keep their assessment results and for further career/major exploration.
  • Individual Career Plan Information Sheet

Reality Check

  • Don't know how much money you will need to earn in the future? Don't know which occupation to choose? Take the California Reality Check.

Career Action Plan

 

Step 2: EXPLORE

In the second phase of the career process you EXPLORE careers through informational interviews and occupational profiles that match what you discovered about yourself. An occupational profile is a description of the knowledge, skills, abilities, tasks, activities, tools, technology, environment, benefits, education, training, wages, trends and related occupations needed for a specific occupation.

There are hundreds of sites and publications that can be used to explore occupations. We recommend the following resources.

If you need assistance in utilizing these, please contact the Career Center.

 

Informational Interviews

The purpose of the information interview is to collect information about careers and develop your network of professionals. By gathering information you may learn that the career you were interested in is the perfect career for you or NOT the career for you at all. Such information is essential in helping you to avoid potential job mismatches. This information will also help you narrow down the available career options and permit you to focus on viable alternatives which are in-line with your personality and you will learn effective methods for obtaining your career goals.

 

Occupational Profiles

California Career Cafe

  • California Community Colleges Virtual Career Center 
  • National pathways to career success that include: exploring careers, salary and benefits, education and training, job search, resume and interviews, unemployment, disability and employment, veterans services.

My Next Move

  • What do you want to do for a living?   I want to be an...   I'll know it when I see it.   I'm not really sure.

CaliforniaCareers.info

  • California resources for students to develop career self-management skills necessary in today's world of work. Fun, easy and free!

whodoyouwant2b.com

  • California community college courses, career options, and financial assistance.

Career-Technical Pathways in the San Diego Community College District.

  • Turn your dreams into reality, start your career pathway today!

California Occupational Guides

  • Search by individual counties in California. Includes job description, job outlook and wages, and qualification requirements, benefits, licensing, education, training, links to possible employers, how to find a job, related occupations, and links to additional resources.

Learn How to become...

  • Search career paths, reseach education otpins, job detials and salaries.

Bureau of Labor Statistics

  • Nation-wide resources to explore careers.

Occupational Outlook Handbook

  • The Nation's premier source for career information. The profiles featured here cover hundreds of occupations and describe What They Do, Work Environment, How to Become One, Pay, and more. Each profile also includes Bureau of Labor Statistics employment projections for the 2010–20 decade.

‚ÄčCalifornia Community College Salary Surfer

University of Texas Salary Surfer

 

More to explore

 

Step 3: DECIDE

Through discovery and exploration you identified possible career options, and now it is time to DECIDE which path to take. It is important to remember that a student today will have at least 3 different careers and 10 different jobs over a lifetime, so a decision for now is not necessarily a decision for life.

So far you have made decisions related to various facets of life. You have decided which college to attend, what classes to take, and where to live. Similarly, selecting a major or career involves obtaining appropriate information and being aware of the numerous factors that may influence your decision. The below topics help you examine how you currently make decisions and offers several approaches to making future decisions.

  • Validate your Career Choice using this Experience tool.
  • Have I fully considered and fleshed out, to the best of my ability, my interests, values and skills?
  • What career options fit my interests, personality, skills and values self information?
  • Have I reflected on how my experiences fit my interests, values, skills?
  • What are my transferable skills?
  • Have I explored careers beyond the surface?
  • What do I like about the identified career options?
  • What don't I like about the identified career options?
  • Which career option seems most attractive to me?
  • Have I gathered enough information to feel comfortable making a decision?
  • How much information do I need to gather to make a decision?
  • Have I challenged assumptions or myths that I may hold about certain careers or the career decision making process itself?
  • What qualifications, training, work experience are required to enter?
  • What are job opportunities like in this area?
  • What are the promotional prospects?
  • What questions do I still have that will help me to make a decision? It may be helpful to talk over the decision making process with family, friends, and counselors.

Factors Influencing Decisions

Confidence in decision-making abilities comes from having made successful decisions in the past. Think about the positive decisions you have made already. How did you make those decisions? What resources helped guide you through your decision-making process?

Support and influence from family and friends can have a big effect on your decisions, especially for significant decisions that may impact the important people in your life.

Consider how your options are compatible with your values, interests and abilities. An example could be: "My previous experience as a student teacher has confirmed my interests in becoming a teacher. Plus, having the summers off will allow me to spend more time with my family." You may need to Evaluate Yourself to clarify your interests, values, skills and personality style.

The number of desirable options is often a factor. People with many interests and abilities find decision-making difficult because they believe they will have to sacrifice appealing options. Those with undefined interests find decision-making difficult as well because none of the options appear attractive.

The method you use to make decisions will depend on your personal decision-making style and the weight of the decision. Each decision-making style has advantages and disadvantages; what is most important is that you use a style that is comfortable and effective for you. You can always use a different style depending on your situation.

It is often best to use a planned decision-making style when making important or complicated decisions. In other words, gather information and apply a systematic and deliberate approach that is a balance between logical reasoning and intuition. A planned approach takes time and energy but is worthwhile when you have to make important decisions. You will also be more confident with your decision if you know you have done your homework and it feels right intuitively.

Other decision-making styles can be used when you face time constraints, or when the decisions are not of great consequence. Sometimes it is easier or more comfortable to make a decision based on your emotions, to let other people influence you, or to leave the decision up to fate.

Decision-Making Models

  • On a piece of paper, write down the decision you are considering making. Write it as if you had already made the decision (for example, "Accept the XYZ Company job offer in San Diego.")
  • Divide the piece of paper into two columns, with "Pros" at the top of one column. Write down the outcomes of the decision that you believe are positive.
  • In the "Cons" column, write down the outcomes of the decision that are negative or less desirable.
  • In the course of writing down your pros and cons, you will probably notice that there are some outcomes that are uncertain or are too hard to predict. Write these outcomes down on a separate piece of paper.
  • Conduct Research about the outcomes that you are unsure about, then add those to the Pro or Con column.
  • For the outcomes that are simply too hard to predict, you might want to talk with other people to get their input or opinions. If possible, evaluate if the outcome is a pro or con and add that to your table.
  • As you begin to complete the table, it may become clearer if the decision you are considering is advisable.

Note: Some outcomes carry more weight than others, so the number of pros and cons in each column is not necessarily indicative of whether or not you should move forward with the decision.

You may want to have a friend or career counselor read the following imagery, or you may want to read through the exercise first and then imagine it on your own.

__________

Find a quiet, calming place to close your eyes and relax as you imagine...

You are walking along a path...it could be in the woods, on a beach, in a valley...whichever is your favorite place in nature. As you walk along feel the air around you...notice the smells...be conscious of the sounds...take note of any plants or vegetation around and what the path feels like under your feet...

Ahead you notice the path divides in two different directions. You take the first pathway that represents the first option you are considering. As you go down that path, experience that option. Try it on fully. How does it make you feel in your body...your heart...your mind? Notice everything inside you and outside you and what is happening...

Walk back to the fork in the path and try the other pathway that leads to your second option. Experience that option fully. How does it feel to experience this option?

Walk back again to the fork in the path. You suddenly see a third path that you had not been able to see before. You take the path and experience a solution you had not thought of before. What is it? What does it feel like?

Return back to the fork and then back down to where you originally started. You feel clear about something from these experiences. You take a deep breath, open your eyes, and come back to the present to write about your observations.

__________

Write down your responses to the following questions:

  • What is your reaction to this exercise?
  • What feelings, thoughts or experiences did you have?
  • What did you realize about yourself and your plan that you did not realize before?
  • How have you or your goals changed as a result of this experience?
  • What goals would you like to set for yourself now?
  • If you are not ready to set a goal for yourself, what additional information do you need?
  • What are any barriers that are preventing you from setting a goal?
  • What can you do about these barriers?

Use a Decision-Making Worksheet to help you evaluate which of your options may be the best for you based on your values. The worksheet takes you through an analytical approach to comparing up to three options.

Step 4: ACT

The ACT step of the career process is where you can plan and implement your career goals. For most students, this is the step where you choose your Major based on your career decision, then meet with a counselor to develop your education plan.

Developing SMART goals can help you meet your educational and career objectives.

Specific | Measurable | Achievable | Results-focused | Time-bound

Specific

Good performance goals are specific. The common mistake in setting specific goals is stating an outcome rather than specific achievement in order to produce that outcome. For example, stating, “Become a better sales person in 200X” is an outcome. What is needed is specific achievements that result in someone becoming a better salesperson. In the process of setting and achieving goals, the first step is to make sure the goals are specific.

Measurable

Some career newbies find this difficult to do. After all, not all good goals are measurable. But based on experience, majority of good performance goals will have measurable results. Think hard about this. Sometimes it is a matter of looking at it from a different angle. Think about the goal's intention. That may help you craft it differently.

Achievable

Goals that are challenging yet achievable builds self-esteem and hence confidence. That can result in more responsibilities and rewards. Some people are of the opinion that goals should be impossible to achieve. Yet others make the mistake of making it easily achievable. These goals are not good as they aren't very motivating for you and your manager. Be courageous enough to set realistic challenging goals that you alone or with the cooperation of colleagues can achieve. Remember, it is about setting and achieving goals. Not setting alone.

Results-focused

When setting goals remember you want to deliver the results towards the organizations objectives. Hence, the goals must be results oriented. Common mistakes here are taking activities as results. For example, increasing call cycle for a particular sales person is an activity. Increasing sales is a result.

Time-bound

Give a time to when your meaningful and motivating goals will be achieved.

Career Collection in the LRC

The LRC Career Collection provides a wealth of books, ebooks, articles, publications, databases and DVD on almost every career topic.

Just use the Super Search Tool on the Library's home page to access the entire collection.

For career articles and reference databases click here.

 


San Diego Mesa College Career Center | Room I4-306 | 619-388-2777 | MesaCareer@sdccd.edu